Saturday, May 17, 2008

Apex Hides the Hurt

Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead was originally published in 2006. My hardcover copy has 212 pages. I really enjoyed this quirky little novel. Wonder Boy was assigned it in one of his college classes so I decided to read it before he sold it back to the book store. In many ways, I'm surprised at how much I appreciated this sharp, witty story. On the one hand it's a relatively simple plot about a nomenclature consultant who is called in to rename a town. But that simplifies the story too much because there are other less obvious themes involving duty, names, image, hidden hurt, identity, and marketing. There were some nice subtle surprises waiting at the end of the book. Whitehead is a very good writer and has a definite gift with words. I highly recommend Apex Hides the Hurt. Rating: 4.5

(*Note: I had originally given Apex Hides the Hurt a 4, but months later I'm still thinking about it, so I've upped it to a 4.5.)

Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
The town of Winthrop has decided it needs a new name. The resident software millionaire wants to call it New Prospera; the mayor wants to return to the original choice of the founding black settlers; and the town’s aristocracy sees no reason to change the name at all. What they need, they realize, is a nomenclature consultant. And, it turns out, the consultant needs them. But in a culture overwhelmed by marketing, the name is everything and our hero’s efforts may result in not just a new name for the town but a new and subtler truth about it as well.

"A good name did not dry up and get old. It waited for its intended." pg. 4

"Roger Tipple did not have a weak chin so much as a very aggressive neck" pg. 5

"All the grass in the park was impossibly level. For community service drunk drivers probably knelt with scissors." pg. 9

"He took him for the brand of retiree who becomes a night watchman of the afternoon, patrolling the grounds, scribbling down license plate numbers of suspicious vehicles." pg. 10

"Writing your town's local history was the librarian version of climbing Everest, he figured." pg. 12

"He had found, in his life, that it was always a good policy to flee when white people felt compelled to inform you about their black friend, or black acquaintance, or black person they saw on the street that morning." pg. 80-81

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